John Calipari penned an emotional letter about former Kentucky guard Terrence Clarke on Friday after landing in Los Angeles, just one day after Clarke was killed in a car accident.
Clarke has been in Southern California preparing for the NBA draft, where he was projected to be a second round pick. He was 19.
“What do I say? What can I do? Can I be of any help in the face of the most unimaginable and devastating heartbreak a family can go through?” the longtime Kentucky coach wrote on his website.
“I really don't know. Right now, I am still trying to process what has happened to a kid we all loved, and I felt like I needed to say some things to try to help us all come to grips with something we may never be able to. I want everyone to know the Terrence that I knew.”
Clarke averaged 9.6 points per game for the Wildcats last season, but played in just eight games while battling a leg injury for most of the year. The Boston native was the No. 8 Rivals.com overall recruit in the class of 2020.
“His heart was overflowing with love for his family, his friends and his teammates,” Calipari wrote. “He was as caring of a person as I have ever coached. His enthusiasm and energy – not just for basketball, for life – are what we all hope to have in our journey. Terrence had figured that part out – that if you wake up every day with a smile on your face and a joy in everything you do, this life is beautiful.”
Tributes have been pouring in for Clarke from across the sports world, including from Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens and even the Boston Red Sox, who honored him on their video board on Friday at Fenway Park.
One of the things that Calipari said he was struggling the most with was the fact that he hadn’t reached out to Clarke — or several other former players of his — in recent days. He felt the need to do so earlier this week, but said he just never got around to it.
“I won't make excuses as to why I didn't,” he wrote. “I just never got around to it and I have to live with that regret for the rest of my life.”
“What I will learn from this is that when you want to tell someone how you feel or just want to talk to them, don't wait. Don't wait for tomorrow to put your arms around someone and tell them you love them or that you're thinking about them. Every day we have is a gift.
“I do not know what these next few hours, days and weeks hold for all of us. They are going to be some of the hardest days we will ever go through. Some of the conversations I have already had are gut-wrenching.”
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